Trials: Noriega Makes His Case

Panama's ousted strongman contends that he was not a bagman but a loyal soldier in the war on drugs

"This case hasn't been much like L.A. Law, has it?" joked Jon May, one of General Manuel Antonio Noriega's defense lawyers, to the 12 jurors sitting in the ornate main courtroom of Miami's federal courthouse. May had a point. The drug-trafficking and racketeering trial against the former Panamanian strongman, now in its fourth month, has droned on in near obscurity, with convicted smugglers and tainted tattletales spinning stories of cocaine smuggling, sly banking maneuvers and French dancing girls.

Last week the general's lawyers began their response to the 10-count indictment charging him with taking millions in bribes to turn Panama into...

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